Federal Jail in NYC Without Heat, Power for Days


Hundreds of inmates at a federal jail in New York City have spent days in cold, dark cells amid frigid weather and without access to visitors or email, attorneys for the inmates said Friday.

The Bureau of Prisons has acknowledged that the jail "experienced a partial power outage due to a fire in the switch gear room".

"I need to find out what's going on with my clients", Spilke said. Jamaal Bailey, who toured the facility Sunday and said there was no heat on the fourth floor.

Murchison's son Desmond, who she said has been awaiting trial for a year at the Sunset Park jail, shouted to his mother through metal grates on Sunday. An electrical panel blew last month, and after it was repaired, it caught fire January 27. The BOP must act immediately to get the heat and lights back on, to restore family and legal visits, and resume programming within the facility. No devices were found. Depriving people who have not been convicted of access to their lawyer has a serious impact on their ability to put together a defense or-more likely-negotiate favorable plea deals.

She found the facility to be "very cold", according to the lawsuit, learned some inmates received only cold food for days after the fire, and observed guards in warm clothing while many inmates were in short-sleeve shirts and light cotton trousers. Inmates also reported smelling noxious fumes and seeing corrections officers wearing masks even though none were supplied to inmates, the lawsuit said. It calls for the appointment of a special master to inspect the lockup. The account was echoed by Councilmember Jumaane Williams, who said he'd heard from inmates that the warden routinely turned off heat as a punishment. The agency insisted that inmates had hot water for showers and sinks, and were getting medications as needed.

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez says she visited the jail with other elected officials Saturday and the heat was uneven and sporadic. On Sunday, the low will be around 30 degrees and the high is expected to be in the lower 40s.

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Officials said power was restored at the federal detention center Sunday night, CBS News reported. On Sunday, guards drove demonstrators attempting to enter the facility back with pushes and shoves. On Sunday afternoon, some of the protesters, including family members of those incarcerated, were pepper-sprayed by guards.

"Today's confrontation between the Bureau of Prisons and family members of people jailed at MDC highlights the desperate need to address the unsafe, inhumane and unlawful conditions inside the facility", NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman said.

The lawsuit also accused the federal government of making misleading statements to the public and courts about conditions inmates faced.

"Heating to the building is provided via a boiler, which was not affected by the power outage", the statement said. Additional blankets, provided by New York City's government, and clothing were to be given to inmates on Saturday, the statement said.

"This is a standard Trump Administration response talking out of both sides of their mouths and not worrying about the truth and not worrying about people's lives", NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. "Let's treat them that way", Cuomo said. "They either failed to grasp or they failed to care about the severity of this humanitarian crisis".

"A lot of them have been receiving their food late".